Hosts China have one last chance to stay alive on their Olympic ice hockey debut but must get past perennial medal contenders Canada in the men’s qualification playoff round on Tuesday.
With the Beijing preliminaries wrapped up, the United States, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Finland and Sweden have booked their spots in the quarter-finals, with the eight remaining teams left to fight it out for the other four spots.
Olympic debutants Denmark play Latvia, Nagano 1998 winners Czech Republic face Switzerland, while Germany, who took silver four years ago, will compete against Slovakia.
China fell 5-0 to the Canadians in their preliminary game at the weekend but struck a defiant tone ahead of Tuesday’s rematch.
They’re a hell of a team, they’re very well-coached and a good group of guys, said China’s Canadian-born goaltender Ouban Yongli, one of 15 overseas players on the hosts’ roster.
It’s going to be a tough game again but we’re up for the challenge, I’m sure of that.
China had hoped the absence of National Hockey League (NHL) players would provide an opening in a wide-open tournament that presented no clear favourite at the outset but they have yet to record a win.
Eric O’Dell, who helped Canada to a third-place finish in Pyeongchang four years ago, said they would not take anything for granted against China.
We know what to expect. (China) have a lot of good players on their team and we can’t really take them lightly, he said.
We’ve just got to go period by period, I think that’s going to be our mentality going forward.